I had been ignoring Twitter for the longest time for same reason I think most people do: it’s aesthetically displeasing, functionally limited, and overwhelming as hell.
But I realized recently that Twitter has some amazing networking powers and here’s why (as said by someone ON Twitter, appropriately):
On Twitter, you can share ideas and connect with people you may have never met otherwise – people around the world, from different age groups, socio-economic strata, industries…all thanks to hashtags.
(Sidenote: Twitter is not the *only* social network that connects people through ideas rather than pre-existing relationships, but it might be the best one.)
So how do you harness the power of Twitter as a networking tool? The basic strategy is to…
- Tweet at/interact with people you want to get to know, and then
- Offer to meet them off the platform and in a more personal place like on the phone or Skype
But how do you know which people to network with? And how can you optimize your chances of them reciprocating?
Let’s break it down:
Step 1: Optimize your profile & execute a growth strategy
You don’t want to reach out to people on Twitter only to have them check your profile and see…nothing.
Make sure you populate your bio section with some text about yourself and what you do, including relevant hashtags. My bio section is nothing special, but you’ll see I use my blog name and specify my real name in the bio; I also hashtagged travelblogger and included a link to my blog’s Facebook page (I used the “link” space to enter my actual blog url).
I’ve always loved Rachel’s Twitter bio. She’s a web designer and former French teacher. I love how she spins it here:
There are a lot of articles about best practices on Twitter, but here are a few other thoughts on optimizing your Twitter profile:
- You can experiment with using emojis in your Twitter name. Jorden Roper does this, for example, to match her badass girl branding on her blog.
- Put up a profile picture in which you look happy and friendly. If you’re going to be reaching out to people, it’s a good idea to look friendly. Don’t use a logo for your profile picture – it makes you look like a brand, not a person.
Once you’re feeling good about your profile, find a Twitter growth strategy that works for you and grow your followers.
For me, this meant starting with Jeff Bullas’s post “How I Spent 10 Minutes Per Week to Triple My Twitter Followers” and going from there.
The biggest change I made in my Twitter strategy that made everything more manageable and let me grow my account without frustration was learning how to use lists.
Either way, if you want to network on Twitter, it helps to have a healthy and active account with a good amount of followers. Plus, it will make you feel less like you’re tweeting into empty space.
Step 2: Find People in Your Field Who Share Your Interests
Now it’s time to use hashtags to find people to network with. How do you know which hashtags to look up? Google it!
I searched for popular hashtags used by freelance writers. FYI some popular ones: #amwriting, #contentmarketing, #writingtips…
You can also check out a site called Hashtagify. Enter a term in the search box then click “table mode” and sort by popularity.
Once you’ve picked out a hashtag to start to network on Twitter, enter your search term into the search box (“#freelancewriter”) then navigate to the “People” tab (it might be called “Accounts” if you’re on your phone).
If someone strikes your fancy for some reason or another, stalk them a bit by looking at their tweets, checking their LinkedIn…
Then tweet at them with a short but specific reason why you are interested in connecting. Follow up with an opportunity to connect off the platform – maybe move to email or LinkedIn messaging to schedule a Skype/call.
Alternately, you can add people/accounts you want to connect with into a list, check that list feed, and interact with those folks before reaching out so they’re warmed up a bit.
Finally, I’ve never personally networked with people during/through Twitter chats but it’s certainly worth a shot. Just Google search for chats in your niche.
Network on Twitter: an example
While hanging around on Twitter one day, I came across someone with a bio and profile that intrigued me. I was super interested in what she did and wanted to connect and learn more about it. So I tweeted at her:
(For those wondering, we did indeed Skype following this encounter and have been in touch both on Skype and other platforms since. Knowing Kyla has been so wonderful during my introduction into freelance writing.)
I know it probably sounds easier than it is, but simply put: if you happen upon someone who sounds interesting, interact with them. The beauty of the Internet is that geography doesn’t matter; the person could live on the other side of the world, but if you’re interested in their ideas, you can still become networking friends.
To keep your Twitter networking success rate high…
- Don’t make it sound like you want advice from them. This might prompt a response from them asking you to pay for their time, but that’s not what this is about.
- Don’t target famous Twitter people (the ones with the blue checkmarks by their names or zillions of followers). I mean you can try and see what happens but it might not be worth your time.
- Don’t send Twitter messages. Due to spam in their inbox, most people don’t check their Twitter messages, or won’t see your message through the mess.
- DO target people who have been recently active on their Twitter account. This means they don’t just have it linked with another social media account but never check it. (A lot of people started a Twitter and never use it or just link it up with their Facebook page and don’t check their Twitter. You might want to network with them still but Twitter clearly isn’t their chosen platform.)
- DO warm them up first by maybe following them (or adding them to a list) and interacting with them a bit before asking to talk off of the platform.
That’s it for now friends! Look out for more networking posts as I think it might be my new favorite thing lately. Happy tweeting!
P.S. You can catch me on Twitter @Mishvo 😉
What do you think of using Twitter for networking? Has it ever worked for you?